The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has reportedly made denigrating remarks about Nelson Mandela after his death.
The South African icon passed away in December 2013 at the age of 95 after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection.
Although many across the world eulogised Mandela for his leadership and influence in uniting post-apartheid South Africa, it has been revealed that Trump was on the other side. A soon-to-be-published book by Michael Cohen quotes the US president as using vulgar language about the former South African president.
In excerpts from the book published in the Washington Post, Cohen recalls Trump saying: “Mandela f***ed the whole country up. Now it’s a s***hole. F*** Mandela. He was no leader.”
Cohen, who was Trump’s personal lawyer before they fell out, also alleges that the US president said, “Tell me one country run by a black person that isn’t a s***hole. They are all complete f***ing toilets.”
Mandela Foundation hits back
On Monday, the Nelson Mandela Foundation issued a statement condemning Trump for his alleged utterances.
The statement said the US president is in no position “to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work” of Mandela. The foundation then used a parable by the late anti-apartheid hero to criticise Trump’s arrogance and ignorance.
“Reflecting on leadership, Madiba [Mandela’s Xhosa name] once said, ‘A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial and uninformed.’
“We would recommend these words to Mr Trump for consideration,” the foundation said.
White House response
But the White House spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, described Cohen as a liar and a criminal. She issued a statement attacking Cohen’s credibility, saying he is only seeking to profit from lying about the US president.
“Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer who lied to Congress. He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies,” McEnany said.
Cohen was Trump’s right-hand man for many years but turned against his boss after a bitter fallout. He subsequently alleged that he faced repeated death threats from Trump supporters. The US president, however, has described him as a liar and a “rat”.
Last year, the disbarred lawyer testified publicly before Congress in the run-up to Trump’s impeachment. However, he is now serving a three-year sentence for making false statements to Congress, among other things.
E A Alanore